Recently, Wired Senior Editor and a well-known tech writer Mat Honan’s life was turned upside-down when hackers broke into his online accounts including Amazon, Gmail, and iCloud.
Hackers also used iCloud’s Remote Wipe feature to delete data from his computer, iPad, and iPhone.
From then on, Amazon has changed their security procedures, and Apple has stated that their securtiy policies were not followed in this instance, knock on wood, security policies can change, but so can the methods hackers use to steal your stuff.
Locking down your account is particularly important because nearly everything you do online links back to your email address.
Google’s ‘Gmail’ offers a powerful tool to keep your data stored in your account secured. This is called “two-step authentication,” it’s a feature of your Gmail account that adds an additional layer of security, and can prevent the type of massive data breach that Mat Honan suffered.
By default, Gmail asks for your username and password every time you login. With two-factor authentication, you’ll need your username, password, and a verification code that gets sent to your mobile phone in order to login to your account.
Basically, it means that anyone who is able to guess (or otherwise acquire) your username and password won’t be able to login without also having access to your mobile phone.
To set up two-factor authentication, sign into your Google Account and head to Settings. If you’re already signed to Gmail, click your name in the upper right corner, and then Account.
From the Security tab, choose Edit next to 2-step verification. After you click Start Setup, Google will request a mobile phone number. This will be where your verification codes will be sent via SMS. Enter your mobile number, type the verification code you receive into Google, and click the Verify button.
The next screen offers details about the Trusted Computer setting. Checking the box sets a browser cookie on your current device so that you’ll only need to authenticate with a verification code once a month. If you share a computer or iPad, or are using a publicly accessible machine, uncheck the box. This will force Gmail to ask for a verification code every time you login.
Once you click Confirm to turn on two-factor authentication, you’re all set. Logging into your Gmail account will now require a username, password, and a verification code from your mobile device.
Keep hackers out of your Gmail and of the rest of your accounts. Set up two-step verification now.
We ALL need to be more proactive about our personal account security. In this day and age we need take responsibility of our info. If you don’t trust the site don’t use it. We have heard a million times don’t use the same passwords, back-up you info and then there is two-factor authentication. 2FA has jumped into the spotlight over the last few months. It’s been around for a while but it is good to see some of the big companies like Google promoting this option. In this case, 2FA was an option that was made available to him and he did not see the need or want to take the time to set it, so it is his own fault. And the two A’s don’t offer it, and that would have limited to damage done. But the sad fact is there are millions of people just like him who are not taking advantage of this awesome functionality that is being offered to them by several sites. People need a wake-up call to kick this complacent attitude about authentication and passwords. My advice is take advantage of the 2FA which allows you to telesign into your accounts. I know some will claim this make things more complicated, but the slight inconvenience each time you log in is worth the confidence of knowing your info is secure. This should be a prerequisite to any system that wants to promote itself as being secure.